What is known as the “Attitude Era” is the most romanticized period in World Wrestling Entertainment history. It is understandable why that is the case as of the spring of 2016. It was during this portion of the 1990s when the WWE did the best business, up to that time, in the history of the company, and it was also when the “Monday Night Wars” that involved World Championship Wrestling competing with the World Wrestling Federation occurred. Stars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and others helped make the WWE an international sensation and a company that would go on to rule North American pro wrestling.
With that said, there are several acts and performers from the Attitude Era that we wrestling fans remember fondly while looking through rose-colored glasses of the past. Some could be considered to be overrated, while others were, no disrespect meant, not all that good in the ring. One of those wrestlers has returned to the WWE in 2016 to, at the very least, work a program at WrestleMania. While his return has made for an intriguing feud, all would do well to remember that the man who is on WWE television today is not the same person who worked matches back in the Attitude Era.
15. Bret Hart
Keep your pitchforks and your torches away, everybody, and listen to reason. Bret “Hitman” Hart was as good an in-ring technician as there has ever been in the WWE. Hart also was not a huge draw as the WWF Champion, and the best contribution that he ever gave the company was being legitimately involved in the “Montreal Screwjob” that helped create the Mr. McMahon character and that was a turning point of the Attitude Era. Face it. The Attitude Era may have never been all that it was had Hart remained in the WWE, and that is what makes him an overrated overall performer for that period in history.
14. Val Venis
The gimmick behind Val Venis was that he was an adult film actor who decided to have a professional wrestling career because, well, we really don’t know. As a wrestler, Venus was not at all inoffensive in the ring. That was, however, the only part of the character that was not offensive. We remember Venus for the clever promos that he cut, for his theme song and for that angle that involved a machete and a portion of Venis’ body being threatened. That some have any real positive memories of Venis’ work during the Attitude Era is a testament to the character being overrated.
Gangrel is one of several wrestlers who were fortunate to make a name for himself during the Attitude Era because of the time that he debuted in the WWE. What we loved most about Gangrel was his entrance that involved the character rising from underneath the stage, and also the theme music that was associated with the wrestler and with faction The Brood. Was Gangrel anything special in the ring? No, not really, but he managed to make a living for himself playing a character that would not get over at all in today’s WWE. Cheers to you, Gangrel, and thanks for the memories.
12. Trish Stratus
Remember, before you think about throwing your computer screen, laptop or mobile device outside of the window, that this piece is about the Attitude Era and not about the overall career of the performer. Trish Stratus ultimately became arguably the best women’s performer since the term “Diva” became the norm on WWE television. During the Attitude Era, though, Stratus was mostly a valet who was not all that great on the microphone and who was put into the ring too early. We are glad that Stratus was around during the Attitude Era, but that doesn’t mean that she was not overrated.
11. The Hardy Boyz
Some may claim that we can blame the performers who were in Extreme Championship Wrestling for wrestlers in the WWE and WCW taking unnecessary and dangerous bumps during routine shows, let alone while working in events on a WrestleMania card. We can also look at Matt and Jeff Hardy when discussing this issue. Team Xtreme gave us many highlight-reel moments, and both of the Hardy Boyz should be credited for being so willing to put their bodies through as much as they did during the Attitude Era. They were also a foundation for the “Spot Monkey” category of wrestlers who cared more about taking risks and doing flips than they did about telling compelling stories.
10. Sycho Sid
Sid was in the WWE during the early days of the Attitude Era, and that makes him eligible to be on this list. Those who have gone back to re-live the Attitude Era via the WWE Network may chuckle when watching some of the promos that Sid cut on the likes of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash during this time. While the character was campy and had a place in the WWE at the time, those who yearn to see an updated version of Sid on shows such as Raw today should be careful about the wishes that they make. It is honestly a small miracle that Sid only suffered a serious injury during the dying days of WCW. Yes, he was that rough in the ring.
Kane deserves all of the credit in the world for being able to hang around in the WWE as an active worker up through 2016. While Kane was placed in multiple significant storylines with the Undertaker and also with the cooperation, both the character and also the matches had by the wrestler do not hold up to today’s standards. In fact, the shine was off of the apple rather quickly with Kane, and the company routinely hesitated to make him the top heel in the WWE for any real amount of time. Kane has been a good hand for two decades, but he is overrated as it pertains to the Attitude Era.
Sable was the perfect woman to come along during the Attitude Era, at a time when the Internet was just becoming a thing that was available in homes all around the United States. She was a great valet who was able to make the transition from babyface to heel, and Sable’s heel persona made the hottest woman in wrestling also one of the most hated. It was when she entered the ring to work as a wrestler, though, that we realized that we may have overrated what she should have contributed to the cause. It’s safe to say that Sable would not be adored by crowds who want to see real women’s wrestling on WWE programming in 2016.
7. The Godfather
The Godfather is going into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. That alone tells you all you need to know about that particular institution. Godfather drew pops from audiences because of the “escorts” that he brought out to the ring before matches, because of his memorable theme song and because of the comical gimmick. With that all out of the way, can wrestling fans everywhere just admit that the performer was an overrated part of the Attitude Era? We honestly cannot remember a single great match that Godfather had during the latter portions of the 1990s.
There is a pocket of WWE fans out there who believe that Chyna should one day be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The question has to be asked: Why? Chyna was not any better than average on the microphone. The best things that she had going for her during her stint in the WWE was that she had a unique look, she was part of D-Generation X and she could be put into the ring to wrestle against male performers. It may be harsh to say, but D-X and the Attitude Era both would have gone on without experiencing any hiccups had Chyna never been signed by the WWE.
5. The New Age Outlaws
Truth be told, it shouldn’t be seen as an insult to say that the New Age Outlaws were an overrated part of the Attitude Era. “Road Dogg” Jesse James and Billy Gunn should actually be praised for being able to get over with audiences all because of how they introduced themselves before matches. Were those matches all that great? They were fine, but nobody should be pretending that the two members of D-Generation X made for one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. The Outlaws should, however, be an example to all young wrestlers who want to make it in the wrestling industry without sacrificing their bodies and years of their lives.
Undertaker makes the list of the most overrated wrestlers of the Attitude Era for two reasons. First, the Satanic cult leader edition of the Undertaker character was ridiculous (minus his awesome theme at the time). Second, Undertaker had one great match during the Attitude Era, and it involved Shawn Michaels taking bumps all over Hell in a Cell. While Undertaker throwing Mankind off of Hell in a Cell remains a vivid memory, anybody else could have theoretically been in that role and the match would have gone the same. Undertaker’s best overall matches have all taken place after the Attitude Era.
3. Stephanie McMahon
Some wrestling fans may take offense at this one because they loved the “McMahon-Helmsley” faction that was ultimately an earlier edition of “The Authority” that is on Raw in 2016. While Stephanie McMahon played a convincing character on television, she was not a great worker in the ring. McMahon’s promo skills also led to her having “go-away heat” after some time, and that she was made the general manager of SmackDown after the WWE purchased WCW did not help matters. McMahon may be underrated for her work in 2016, but she is overrated as it pertains to what she did during the Attitude Era.
2. Vince McMahon
Would the WWE have defeated WCW without the Mr. McMahon character? Maybe not, but that does not erase the reality that Vince McMahon never should have worked a single match during the Attitude Era, and he certainly had no business competing for and winning the WWF Championship. What’s worst of all is that the Mr. McMahon character led to the WWE holding onto the idea of the heel authority figure up through the spring of 2016. It’s been two decades. Mr. McMahon needs to go away and never return. That, to steal the phrase that has been repeated on Raw over and over, is what is best for business.
1. Shane McMahon
That King of the Ring match that Shane McMahon had with Kurt Angle was brutal, difficult to watch and also awesome. Still, everybody needs to stop with the takes that McMahon was some great worker who was capable of having five-star matches with anybody. McMahon took some memorable bumps, and the guy is somewhat lucky that he is able to walk around these days let alone able to make a return to the WWE and work a program with the Undertaker. We love Shane-o-Mac, and we pop for his music. We must all also admit that he is the most overrated wrestler of the Attitude Era.